Predicting the Future by Controlling the Future

Nearly three thousand years ago, The Oracle at Delphi opened for business in Athens, Greece. The Oracle operated for a few hundred years administering advice, wisdom and philosophical insights. Rumor has it the business waned and finally failed when some smooth-taking Roman convinced the Oracle to franchise. Nonetheless, they had a great run for a few centuries.

The tradition lives on in Arizona through The Oracle at Hot Stix. After suffering consternation over life’s great philosophical quandaries, e.g., “Why do wedges chunk when you hit’em?” and “Why are twenty foot putts easy while three footers are nearly impossible?”, I was at wit’s end. Fortunately, humanity has evolved in such a manner that its members find survival value in helping other members of their club. First, Joe Busch (the club whisperer) confided in me. In his customary nuanced way, he said, “Your game sucks! You need to visit the Oracle at Hot Stix.” Naturally, I ignored Joe thinking … opinions are like … oh, never mind. I ignored him. A week later, he looked at my scorecard and blurted out his soon to be recurrent advice, “Go see the Oracle at Hot Stix.”

As time passed, more voices echoed from the rough and hazards on the course as I hacked my way into golf ignominy. While teeing up a provisional on #4 Padre, I heard Jack Summers whisper, “The Oracle at Hot Stix.” I saw Ron Dobkin silently mouth the phrase, “The Oracle at Hot Stix.” Sandy Wiener said, “It’s not in my financial interest, but I suggest you visit The Oracle.” In my dreams, I started seeing images akin to the face of the infamous smiling “Cheshire cat” each entreating me to submit to The Oracle. Finally, when Mike Allison walked by me on the range catatonically chanting, “I’m off to see The Oracle”, I knew it was time.

Joe Busch made the appointment and promised to pick me up at my home. He feared that without a chaperon, I might run in the opposite direction as if retreating from a dentist who had run out of Novocain. It was a twenty minute drive and I’m proud to say I neither cried nor whimpered once during the drive.

We arrived at the Hot Stix site in Fountain Hills and Joe ushered me into the Oracle’s chamber. He then retreated to guard the door to keep me from breaking free and escapChris Marshing.

When I finally met The Oracle, I was stunned. He didn’t have fangs. He didn’t have claws. He was rather large, but his smile seemed to paint him as a friendly, if not docile soul as we prepared for the dreaded swing analysis. His name was Chris Marsh. In fact, I’m pretty certain his name is still Chris Marsh. He carries the designation of “Master Fitter”.

Chris spent more than an hour working with me, experimenting with a seemingly endless array of shafts and club heads. After each iteration, we reviewed and analyzed the data provided by some high-tech device called “TrackMan”, a piece of equipment so sophisticated I suspect it can read your mind. Attack angle, spin-rate, club path, club speed, face angle, and blah, blah, blah. If Apollo XIII had had one of these things, they never would have had to call Houston.

As a chemical engineer, this experience took me back into the “Unit Ops” lab where we tested the magic of physical processes. I found the information garnered from my session with The Oracle immensely interesting and helpful. As a student of physics, I started to realize that the use of a trained fitter equipped with high tech equipment like TrackMan could do nothing other than help my golf game.

With this somewhat tongue-in-cheek description of my day with The Oracle, I feel compelled to emphasize one fact.

If you’re playing with clubs that aren’t optimally selected for your swing mechanics, you are not playing your best golf.

If your present clubs aren’t fit to your swing, surely you can hack your way around the course and complete eighteen holes, albeit with less than your best score. However, IF you’re contemplating the purchase of a new club or clubs, you will be smart if you visit a highly trained master club fitter like Chris Marsh before you invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in the wrong clubs. It’s worth the time, money and effort to see The Oracle at Hot Stix.

Camelback Golf History is Made

Chip smilesWow!!! Those who know me will assure you that it is a rare occasion when I’m left speechless. Chip Nelson created one of those instants Wednesday when I was handed his group’s scorecard. Chip had just obliterated the existing course record for the Ambiente course by shooting a 60 from the Verde tees.

It was a warm day. Winds occasionally gusted to ten knots. The course was in good shape. The stage was set for an 11:10 a.m. tee off in a group with Dr. Jack Summers and Captain Lee Mitchell. The opening hole on the Ambiente course sets the tone. It’s a challenging dogleg with both fairway and green guarded with cavernous sand traps. Chip carded a birdie three.

Chip birdied the second hole and stood on the tee box of the 504 yard par 5 third hole. He was already two under par. He carded an eagle on the third to go four under after three. After another birdie on the fourth hole, Chip just missed the green with his drive on the par 4 fifth. That didn’t appear to hurt him because he chipped it in for another eagle. After five holes, Chip was seven under par!

Continue reading “Camelback Golf History is Made”

All Hail! The Cup is Home

The CupFor the first time in three years, The Camel Cup has been brought home. With sixteen spirited and competitive individual matches and eight tough team matches, the team from Camelback Golf Club defeated Gainey Ranch 15-9 on the Padre course. Camelback golfers had the edge 9-7 in the individual matches. They also prevailed 6-2 in the team matches.

Gainey’s Sam Engel took home low gross honors with a strong 67 from the White tees. Sam’s opponent, Chip Nelson, threw four birdies at him, but he couldn’t quite overcome Sam’s six birdies and fell to Sam one down.

Continue reading “All Hail! The Cup is Home”

The Artistry of Being a Marshal

Marshall DillonI’ve been swinging at golf balls for more than sixty years (although I’m barely into my late forties). There was a period in my life when I played seven days a week. I’ve since cut it back to three or four times a week. I estimate that in all, I’ve played on the order of 3,500 rounds of golf. With that said, you can trust me when I say I’ve seen a course “ranger” or two. I think I’ve earned the right to comment on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I will refer to them as “rangers” or “marshals” synonymously in this piece. I also suggest that either term is a pejorative in that it implies they have the role of an overbearing “cop” or enforcer which of course, they are, but why raise the hackles of the customer unnecessarily? Golf course operators would serve themselves well to give them titles that convey a warm, fuzzy, beneficent function. Consider “Player Assistant”. Think about it. The “marshal” is the enforcer trying to “catch you” doing something wrong and punishing you for any transgressions. A “Player Assistant” loves you and is there to “assist” you, to give you love and administer an occasional hug following an errant tee shot. He only entreats you to pick up the pace a bit because he loves you and wants to help you avoid the stress of having the group behind continue to shout obscenities at your group. Continue reading “The Artistry of Being a Marshal”

Diabolical Plan Rattles the Group!

With an understanding of and an abiding faith in the USGA Handicap System, we have permitted participants in our games to play from any rated set of tees. We have adjusted handicaps accordingly as stipulated by the USGA Handicap System. With literally thousands of rounds of golf to analyze, I can say the Handicap System works. It has its flaws, but by-and-large, it does the job of leveling the playing field as it was intended.

Continue reading “Diabolical Plan Rattles the Group!”

Golf Erotica for Mathematicians

Math chalkboardI recently received an email from one of our golfers asking for an explanation of the “Odds” column on the Gross Score Report found at the bottom of the “Match Sign-Ups” page on this site. It dawned on me that others may have that same question. What follows is a copy of my response to the email.

If you have something important to do, like watch your grass grow or look for dust bunnies under your couch, skip everything in black below and go directly to the answer in red at the bottom of this diatribe. Either way, let me know if you have any other questions. Cheers.

What time is it, you ask? Let me tell you how to build a watch!

Continue reading “Golf Erotica for Mathematicians”

Skins and the Quest for Fairness

GolfSkinsEveryone agrees playing a skins game is great fun as long as you win one. Others say it’s not nearly as fair when you’re not collecting a portion of the prize money. The issue of “fairness” is rarely broached by those collecting money, but often questioned by the empty handed competitors. Let’s take a look at the mechanics of “skins games”, especially as played with our regular group at Camelback Golf Club.

Continue reading “Skins and the Quest for Fairness”